Duncanville Suing Itself?

DUNCANVILLE, TX – City Attorney Bob Hager of Nichols, Jackson,Dillard, Hager & Smith, LLC, filed suit in the name of City of Duncanville against Duncanville Mayor Deborah Hodge in her official capacity. At issue is whether or not Mayor Hodge can insist on enforcing the 2/3 majority vote as enacted by the Duncanville City Council’s Rules of Procedure. On several occasions, the voting bloc of 4 (Boyd,Harvey,Smith, and Cooks) have sought to abolish all super majority protection in the City Council’s Rules of Procedure.
It began back in June 2013 when newly elected Councilman Cliff Boyd proposed eliminating the 2/3 vote throughout the rules resulting in all votes to be a simple majority and weakening the parliamentary authority by making Roberts Rules of Order optional. Then, newly elected councilmen Patrick Harvey and Stan Smith, along with Councilman Mark Cooks, also supported the changes, while Mayor Deborah Hodge, Council member Johnette Jameson and Councilman Stephen Jones opposed the move.
The rules have been in effect since March 1996.
The list of procedural rules that require a 2/3 vote are removing the Mayor Pro Tem, closing or limiting debate by fellow council members, and a call to conform to its agenda, order of business, or the Rules of Procedure.
At the June meeting Boyd cited his past experience on the Parkland Board and as former mayor of Duncanville saying that they “did perfectly fine” without having any super majority requirements. This paper has since learned the Parkland Board does adhere to parliamentary authority.
Back in June, City Council member Jameson stated, “I don’t know if it’s because they are uninformed of the values of the rule of law and our constitutional form of government or if it’s more sinister — perhaps they want to systematically eliminate all barriers to fast track their agenda. It’s not like we made this up. Super majority is a best practice evidenced by the fact that our state and federal government insists on having these safeguards.”
Dr. Stephen Jones issued the following statement when requested for a response: “The super majority requirement guards a simple majority from altering the rights of the minority. It is a barrier that suppresses any tendency towards a tyranny of the majority from forming and degenerating in to mob rule.”
Councilman Jones continued that the super majority requirement “establishes predictability and consistency of process that is essential for effective and functional government. If a simple majority can decide on when the rules apply and when they do not, the result is 4 council members that are never subject to the rules and 3 council members that are always subject to them. That form of government is known as a Banana Republic.” Dr. Jones, representing District 2 on the City Council, has a PHD in Chemistry, is Acting Dean of Science, Nursing, Arts, and Physics Department and oversees the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math grant program at Mountain View College
Former Councilwoman Judy Richards stated, “this lawsuit is an attempt by the simple majority to usurp and short circuit the proper political process. Furthermore, we taxpayers are paying for the city to sue the mayor and we will be paying attorneys to defend the mayor. So the taxpayers will lose either way. The city is suing the city?”
Mayor Hodge and Councilman Jones are up for re-election in May.